Mary E. Rogers
PTSD AND ME
I recently read these words by Ernie Pyle, the chronicler of G.I. Joe’s WW2 wrote:
“These are the things that you at home need not even try to understand. To you at home they are columns of figures, or he is a near one who went away and just didn’t come back. You didn’t see him lying so grotesque and pasty beside the gravel road in France.”
“We saw him; saw him by the multiple thousands. That’s the difference…”
They are so true. I have long since known that I cannot comprehend what it must have been like to see death in the numbers that the soldiers have seen. I have long since known that it was the infantry that seen the worst of it and yet there was enough horror for some of those in the rear to be still living in their own private hell. I did not see war, I’ve only seen the aftermath of that living hell and it is forever locked in my mind.
The screams in the darkness of night; the hands around my throat, perceiving me to be the enemy and me praying that he would fully awaken before something unforgivable happened – and then remembering his sorrow at having done such things.
No I didn’t see war and many who went to war didn’t see the degree of horror that some saw. I was told one time that every Vietnam Veteran suffers with PTSD to some degree. I have always thought the degree depended on how completely each one was stripped of their innocence. Just as the Veteran suffered from PTSD, so does those who loved them. It is the gift that keeps on giving to spouses and children. PTSD is not something that is exclusive to a Veteran… it belongs to those who have witnessed a horror that their mind can never forget.
Mr. Pyle wrote, “These are the things that you at home need not even try to understand.” And yet to my dying day I will try to understand why love couldn’t bring the rest of my husband’s mind home. I will never as long as I live forget the darkest of nights. And I will never stop believing that only heaven can wipe away the hell of war. My Richard is finally free.
Please do not think that I am trying to diminish the things you men had to witness. You are all, my heroes. Just remember that sometimes we need some understanding too and that the hardest thing is to remain in the dark and not be told anything.
It is people like Gary Jacobson and Bernie “Doc” Duff who were willing to show me the scenes that my husband witnessed, and it is through them that I have found a measure of healing. I know not all Veterans like to talk about it but I thank God for the few that have been able to help my mind understand a little of what those of us who weren’t there, can ever completely understand.
©Copyright June 2004 by Mary E. Rogers